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Up to seven out of ten children’s meals at chain restaurants contain too much fat

Revealed: Up to seven out of ten children’s meals at chain restaurants contain too much fat – with some including THREE TIMES the recommended daily amount

  • Up to 70 per cent of kid’s meals in chain restaurants have too much saturated fat
  • Average meal aimed under 5s has 609 calories, double recommended amount
  • Around a quarter of children entering primary school are overweight or obese

Up to seven out of ten children’s meals in chain restaurants contain more saturated fat than recommended by health guidelines.

Unhealthy meals served to youngsters in restaurants may be fuelling the rise in obesity in young children, researchers suggest.

Once just an occasional treat, takeaway meals are now increasingly eaten by children on a regular basis. At the same time the number of fast food restaurants has risen by 34 per cent in the past decade.

Unhealthy meals served to youngsters in restaurants may be fuelling the rise in obesity in young children, researchers suggest (stock image)

A study by the University of Roehampton and the Cork Institute of Technology looked at children’s menus from 20 popular chain restaurants, and analysing more than 39,000 meal combinations.

They found 68 per cent of meals aimed at children as young as two, and 55 per cent of meals aimed at older children, had four times the recommended amount of saturated fat.

Researchers found that the average meal aimed at children aged two to five contains 609 calories – nearly double the suggested amount of 364 calories.

Dishes for six to 12-year-old children on average contained around 100 calories more than the recommended amount.

They found 68 per cent of meals aimed at children as young as two, and 55 per cent of meals aimed at older children, had four times the recommended amount of saturated fat (stock image)

They found 68 per cent of meals aimed at children as young as two, and 55 per cent of meals aimed at older children, had four times the recommended amount of saturated fat (stock image)

The research reviewed children’s menus from 20 popular chain restaurants in the UK and Ireland. They included Nandos, All Bar One, Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Burger King, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Harvester, KFC, McDonalds, Pizza Express, Pizza Hut, Wagamama, Zizzi, Subway and Toby Carvery.

The average meal for younger children (aged two to five years) contained 609 calories, and 653 calories for older children (6-12 years), despite guidelines being 364 calories and 550 calories for younger and older children, respectively.

A total of 68 per cent of younger children’s and 55 per cent of older children’s meals contained more total fat than recommended and more than four times the amount of saturated fat.

he average meal for younger children (aged two to five years) contained 609 calories, and 653 calories for older children (6-12 years), despite guidelines being 364 calories and 550 calories for younger and older children, respectively (stock image)

he average meal for younger children (aged two to five years) contained 609 calories, and 653 calories for older children (6-12 years), despite guidelines being 364 calories and 550 calories for younger and older children, respectively (stock image)

Fast-food meals contained less energy, fat and salt than did full-service restaurants, although full-service restaurants usually included desserts. Meal deals were less likely to meet dietary guidelines than main meals alone. In conclusion, the report in the Journal of Nutrition, Education and Behaviour said: ‘Eating in chain restaurants, in particular meal deals, does not contribute positively to the diet of children in the United Kingdom and Ireland.’

Currently around a quarter of children entering primary school are overweight or obese, rising to one third by age 11.’

Author Dr Tara Coppinger, of Cork Institute of Technology, said that as families are opting to eat out more regularly, their findings indicate a worrying trend of youngsters eating increasingly unhealthy food. She said that while the sugar tax on fizzy drinks, which came into effect in 2018, was a positive step to help improve the quality of food and drink on offer, the study ‘proves there is still a lot of work to be done in many of the country’s most popular restaurants’.

Currently around a quarter of children entering primary school are overweight or obese, rising to one third by age 11 (stock image)

Currently around a quarter of children entering primary school are overweight or obese, rising to one third by age 11 (stock image)

The research additionally found comparing meal deals and the single main course highlighted the extent to which additional courses and drinks contribute to the energy content of a meal.

In particular, by choosing the meal deal option – seen as more convenient and cheaper – parents are perhaps unknowingly ordering meals that don’t meet dietary recommendations.

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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